The government committee tasked with scrutinising the highly controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, which was this week waved through Parliament by an overwhelming majority of MPs, now wants evidence from Joe Public.
After receiving its second reading in the House of Commons this week, the so-called Snoopers' Charter is set to be enshrined in law this year and will effectively legalise state mass surveillance.
However, the Bill has attracted widespread criticism, with hundreds of senior lawyers having signed an open letter describing the proposed legislation as "not fit for purpose."
The House of Commons Public Bill Committee is asking for evidence from folk with "relevant expertise and experience or an interest in the Investigatory Powers Bill to submit their writing to the committee before it considers this Bill."
The body noted the bill follows "three important reports published in 2015, all of which concluded that the law in this area is unfit for purpose and in need of reform, and a draft Bill that has been subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees."
It said many of the capabilities for which the Bill provides have been in use for a number of years:
"Some are openly provided for in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, whereas others have been only recently avowed, having operated on the basis of vaguely drawn provisions in legislation governing the general powers of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies."
The capabilities for which the Bill provides include: the interception of communications; the retention and acquisition of communications data; equipment interference; and the retention and examination of bulk personal datasets. The government will have the ability to require retention of internet connection records, which will reveal which websites an individual has visited.
The Bill Committee is expected to hold oral evidence sessions on Thursday 24 March. The Committee will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 5 May.
It is asking for submissions to address matters contained within the Bill. Submissions should be emailed to email@example.com and should be no longer than 3,000 words. ®
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